Judge John D. Ogle, a well-respected Associate Circuit and Probate Court Judge in this area from the time of his election in 1962 until his retirement in 1996, shared an interesting ghost story about the spirit of a young boy who would have grown up to be his uncle, had he lived.


Judge Ogle said that hearing this ghost story told with such seriousness by his parents was one of his earliest memories from childhood. His parents, J. H. Ogle and Ola Mooney Ogle, lived above his father’s store in Rockport, Illinois after they were married in 1919. The store was not too far from his mother’s family farm. She was one of 10 children and her youngest brother, Tommy, was no older than five years of age. Not long after the marriage, Tommy became very sick with what was probably pneumonia. There was no medical care available other than what the family could provide to him at home.

Judge Ogle’s parents tried to help as much as possible, riding out to the farm in their horse and buggy after closing their store in the evenings. One night, his parents were at the farm until the early morning hours trying to help cool down Tommy’s high fever. His grandmother persuaded the couple to head home as they needed their rest to run their shop the next day.

They were about halfway home down the dirt road when they heard “sounds behind them which they described as a sudden, rushing of a strong wind, and the clatter of hooves as of a running horse.” When they turned to see what was sharing the road with them, “a small, pure white pony” ran by at a full gallop “pulling a small, two-wheeled pony cart which was also stark white.” The most surprising sight of all was that of a small boy seated in the pony cart, dressed entirely in white. The small boy appeared to be “whipping the pony repeatedly and urging him on.” The Ogles could hear that he was saying words, but they could not understand what they were.

As the pony and cart passed by the couple, glowing white, it never slowed and soon disappeared in the distance. They stopped to talk about what they had witnessed and to calm down their horse. The next morning they learned little Tommy had passed away only minutes after their departure.

Judge Ogle’s mother and father agreed on every detail of the event. They also agreed that they did not feel any fear at all, they were merely startled. No one in the small town owned a pony cart that came even close to fitting the description of the one the Ogles saw being driven by a little boy in the middle of the night only a short time after Tommy had made his exit from this realm.

Judge Ogle’s wife, Polly, and my mother, Linda Stoops Houser, both worked at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital decades ago. One day while at the Hannibal Public Library, my mother came upon Judge Ogle’s ghost story in the book Haunted Odyssey: Ghostly Tales of the Mississippi Valley by Jim Longo. When she asked Polly about it the next day, Polly confirmed that the story was true and that she and the Judge had never doubted the veracity of it.